On a day that was a preamble to summer, although the calendar still showed it to be spring, the SAMs (Senior Adult Ministry) from First Baptist Church journeyed to Little Rock en route to the Arkansas Arts Center and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.
Upon arriving at the Arkansas Arts Center, the group went first to the Best Impressions Restaurant for lunch. Located at 9th and Commerce in downtown Little Rock, the restaurant has a panoramic view of MacArthur Park and the grounds. Best Impressions offers an opportunity to enjoy delicious culinary works — the menu includes American fusion dishes as well as an a la carte menu of soup, salads, sandwiches, hot entrees, daily specials and homemade desserts.
After what everyone agreed was a wonderful meal, the group moved to the galleries to view the two new exhibits on display, “Wendy Maruyama: Executive Order 9066” and “Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass.” Wendy Maruyama is a studio furniture maker and head of the studio furniture program at San Diego State University. Her two projects, the “Tag Project” and “Executive Order 9066”, together tell the story of the Japanese-American internment camps during World War 11. In the “Tag Project”, Maruyama replicated 120,000 individual identification tags worn by the internees in the 10 relocation camps, including two in Arkansas. Maruyama has folded the “Tag Project” into a parallel project of hers titled “Executive Order 9066” to show them together in this exhibition. “Executive Order 9066” was the directive signed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt ordering the incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry then residing in the United States. For the parallel project, Maruyama created works that explore ethnicity and identify through suitcases, footlockers and steamer trunks, artifacts from their owner’s forced relocation journey in 1942.
As America awaited the declaration of war in the spring of 1941, photographer Edward Weston set out on a cross-country photographic expedition. Weston, one of America’s leading modernist photographers, was making photographs for a new edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”. The Limited Editions Club of New York commissioned these images to bring together the great 19th-century poet’s verbal celebration of America with the great 20th-century photographer’s visual odyssey. Weston declined to literally illustrate Whitman’s words, yet the two portrayals of America echo one another. Where Whitman’s 19th-century verse was shaped by the Civil War, Weston’s images anticipated World War II.
Next, the group went next door to the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Opened in May of 2001 in the Little Rock Arsenal building, this museum contains an eclectic mix of exhibits, most relating to the role of Arkansas and Arkansans in various wars of the 19th and 20th centuries.
After a full day, the SAMs loaded back onto the church bus for their return trip home. Those making the trip were the volunteer SAMs driver, Roger Minyard, Linda Minyard, organizer of the SAMS, Jeanette McGrew, Catherine Long, Sara Cromer, Peggie Howard and Audrey Borecky.